Not long after Involuntary Joy was published, a former student of mine named Tali Salberg Paulson read the book while pregnant with her first child. (Here is a vlog with Tali when pregnant with Baby #2.) She shared her reactions along with a hope: "I wish your book were required reading for young women before they get married and begin having children."
I had not anticipated her statement, for young women were not necessarily an audience I had in mind when writing Involuntary Joy. (Then again, I'm not exactly sure who I had in mind. I just knew was compelled to write it.)
As Tali continued to share her reaction and reasoning, her wish made a lot of sense. So much of the time we live re-actively, postponing any thoughts of how we would deal with less-than-ideal circumstances until our life circumstances prove less than ideal. I sensed that Tali, who as I stated was pregnant with her first child, was quickly processing some things she had not thought of before. In fact, she confessed goading her husband, Chad, into some what-if conversations. The poor guy probably thought: "Where the heck is all this coming from?"
Anyway, I immediately thought of Tali and her wish when I got a call from someone (thank you, Mr. Kofron) informing me that Miss Blaser was having a difficult time locating books to purchase for her class. Within an hour, I had passed books along to Miss Blaser via Mr. Kofron's bus route, and later that week, her Contemporary Issues students (hello, Gretchen Thomas and Jamie Hoff) were reading Involuntary Joy.
After the all-school assembly last week, I enjoyed hearing about their collective reading experience – primarily about the kind of topics they discussed because of what they read. And, Tali, I think your wish came true for the women in this class. I think they have vicariously lived some things that are getting them ready for whatever is to come in their own lives regarding marriage and motherhood.
Fortunately, odds are in their favor. Most likely they will not experience anything close to what life has presented us. But if they do, I think that they, somehow, feel better prepared – at least more aware, and that can be a wonderful proxy for preparation.
So, thank you again, Miss Blaser, Gretchen and Jamie. I am honored to have been even a small part of your learning experience. I promise to write more someday about the questions you asked during the vlog about coping abilities and the decision to describe situations with family members in the book. Wonderful questions. I think they deserve even more reflection ... someday.